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David Poland

By David Poland

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word…

Park City to Long Beach to Santa Barbara… with a 9am jury meeting in the morning.
Sundance ended as it began for me… with Brett Morgan. We chatted on Thursday morning, after which he headed off to an Iraq War protest at the festival and I headed off to the SLC Airport. More on that, Waitress, The Night Buffalo, Robinson Devor (director of Zoo), Black Rain/White Light, Longford, Jim Broadbent, and more.
But for now… I must give up to the need for sleep.
Here’s something to discuss… the first couple of Box Office Hell estimates for Epic Movie are $20.6 million and $14 million and for Smokin’ Aces, $14.1 million and $8 million. Pretty extreme.

38 Responses to “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word…”

  1. EDouglas says:

    I’m probably high (like I was with Hitcher)…. I had about two hours to work on my column this week in between screenings/interviews.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    Smokin’ Aces is this year’s Running Scared, though it does have a better cast and will be in more theaters. The Internet crowd goes crazy for it, but it has limited appeal outside of that.

  3. EDouglas says:

    I think there’s more ACTUAL interest in Smokin’ Aces then there was for Running Scared, which had been moved around the schedule a lot, and except for some cool visuals and a fun scene with Vera Farmiga, it wasn’t very good. Carnahan does have a bit of a fanbase… maybe $14 million is high, but $8 million is probably low.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    I agree that Smokin’ Aces will make more than Running Scared, because it is playing in more theaters and has a more recognizable cast. I still think that it has very limited appeal though, and will probably open right around $10 million.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    Republican: Scripts need reviewing
    Movie prompts lawmaker’s film incentive idea
    By Mark Schreiner
    Raleigh Bureau Chief
    Raleigh | Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.
    That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state’s lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.
    “Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?” said Berger, who is having proposed legislation drafted.

  6. Not even all the movies in Epic Movie are, well, epic. If they had called it Blockbuster! or something like that I could sorta understand…

  7. EDouglas says:

    “If they had called it Blockbuster! or something like that I could sorta understand…”
    I think the Zuckers own the copyright on using an exclamation point in the title of your spoof movie. Surprised they didn’t add one to Scary Movie 3 and 4.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    If Date Movie could open to $19m, I suppose it’s possible for Epic Movie to open to $14 at least. Although it looks like they’re not running ‘from the makers of Date Movie’ in the ads, which is probably smart.
    Running Scared was a good movie, but Smokin’ Aces will almost certainly do better – there aren’t really any other action movies out now, are there?

  9. Eric says:

    I haven’t seen Smokin’ Aces, but the trailers all suggest a Snatch sort of thing– asserted coolness, attitude, random violence, quirky hitmen, etc. No real substance.
    What a tired subgenre.

  10. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, it seems like a movie that was made around 1998 and was sat on for several years.

  11. MASON says:

    The Carnahan hype puzzles me. Narc had its moments, but went down the drain during Busta Rhymes’ horrible “okay, time to explain the mystery” interrogation scene.
    It reminds me of the Richard Kelly hype. The guy makes one interesting movie and people go crazy for him.
    Who knows? Maybe they’re just really good self-promoters.
    Hopefully Carnahan avoids writing his own “Southland Tales.”

  12. Stella's Boy says:

    After reading glowing reviews at and other places, I really expected Running Scared to be a hell of a lot better than it turned out to be. I think with low expectations I would have liked it more. I hope Smokin’ Aces is better. Narc isn’t perfect but I think it is really good overall, with great work from Patric and Liotta.

  13. anghus says:

    will we ever see Southland Tales?
    I can’t imagine there’s not 80 minutes of usable footage to release something… i’m just wondering why it’s been held onto for so long.
    I’m just waiting for the day where i walk into Wal Mart and see “Southland Tales” on the shelf next to “Edison Force” and “Stormbreaker”

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Presumably because Kelly is sticking to his guns and refusing to cut the movie down; to which I say, hang on for as long as you can.

  15. anghus says:

    So, the movie has been called ludicrously awful by all of those who have seen it, and he is sticking to his guns to release a movie, that by just about everyone’s estimation, is completely awful.
    Interesting strategy.
    So crazy, it might just work. I guess if you’re going to go down in a flaming blaze, you might as well go down with your original vision intact.

  16. EDouglas says:

    He should just do Southland Tales Part 1 and Part 2.

  17. anghus says:

    Like, two separate films cut from what they already have?

  18. jeffmcm says:

    I’d rather see Kelly’s awful original version than a ‘salvaged’ studio chop-job.

  19. anghus says:

    i remember meeting one of the producers of southland tales. really nice guy, was shooting another movie, and i asked him about it, citing i had just read the reviews from Cannes, and he just smiled and said “I’m sorry”, and never mentioned it again.

  20. Richard Nash says:

    SOUTHLAND was one of the worst films I have ever sat thru. Incoherent beyond belief. It is almost yelling for an editor. I cant believe it was the same guy behind DONNIE DARKO. It is like a bad student film with famous faces.
    I’d be shocked if it ever got a release.

  21. anghus says:

    I gotta see it.
    I have this penchant for train wrecks. Like everyone else, i love a good film. But sometimes i just want to watch a complete train wreck just to see where the hell it all went wrong.

  22. Wrecktum says:

    Donnie Darko itself was completely overrated, so it doesn’t surprise me that Southland Tales misses the mark. Kelly is a talented director, though, so I’m surprised that the film is being described as awful. Surely there must be an aesthetic appeal to the film that would prevent the “train wreck” moniker.

  23. waterbucket says:

    While I’m neither a fan of Al Gore nor the film, that story about The Inconvenient Truth linked on the front page leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.
    Just another example of the vocal conservative minority able to change regulations and policies while the indifferent public looks on until it has an immediate impact upon them. By then it may be too late.

  24. RoyBatty says:

    Those numbers for EPIC MOVIE and SMOKIN’ ACES must be reversed. The youth segment is really hungry for something new and last week’s failure of THE HITCHER suggests they still haven’t gotten it. STOMP THE YARD appealed to part of that group, but was probably viewed as being a little too “inside baseball” for general audiences.
    Universal has been running plenty of TV ads, I won’t be that surprised if it does better than $20M.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t have a problem with vocal minorities speaking up for change (aren’t you a member of one of those, Waterbucket?), but clearly the parent in that story is insane. It says he literally wants global warming to happen as part of the Rapture! Obviously, he should not have his kids in public schools because they’re in danger of learning about evolution as well.

  26. Josh Massey says:

    I really see “Smokin’ Aces” as being something that ends up with $4 million. I hope I’m wrong, because it looks sorta entertaining.

  27. I heard Kelly cut Southland Tales down to about 2 hours or something. Or did I just dream it?
    Still, I’m fascinated by it. What could possibly be that bad that a studio would refuse to release it. I mean, studios have released stuff like Battlefield Earth, Glitter and Gigli, so why not this?

  28. I heard Kelly cut Southland Tales down to about 2 hours or something. Or did I just dream it?
    Still, I’m fascinated by it. What could possibly be that bad that a studio would refuse to release it. I mean, studios have released stuff like Battlefield Earth, Glitter and Gigli, so why not this?

  29. waterbucket says:

    I don’t have a problem with the vocal minorities because as you’ve pointed out, I belong to one of them too. But I have a problem with other groups who may or may not agree not saying anything.

  30. MASON says:

    Joe Carnahan does the Kevin Smith and answers his critics on his blog.
    “Fu*k the critics that don’t get it and I don’t give a sh&t if every last one of ’em goes
    bad on the movie. Mike Nichols describes their inherent bitchiness thusly: ‘A critic is the
    lone Eunuch at the orgy.’ They ain’t gonna roll with this one guys. They want to be able to
    easily slot it in and call it ‘Tarantino’ and blah-blah bullsh*t and not really try to
    gauge or appreciate it beyond that. They wanted me to make ‘Narc’ all over again.
    They wanted something deliberately, obviously high-minded or overly dramatic.
    I didn’t deliver on that. I had no intention of ever doing that…and they’re wrong
    about this movie. Mark my words on this: They are wrong. The ones that did get
    it, got it fantastically and I celebrate them, although you can’t give any more import
    to the good ones. You have to take the good and bad equally and not vest in either
    too heavily. I know the film kicks ass and I know that upon repeat viewing, it will find
    a brilliant little niche along the way. But go see it. Experience it and draw your own
    It’s a great day. I’m happy and the movie is finally moving out into the world on its

  31. MattM says:

    Smokin’ Aces was selling out on a regular basis in Times Square tonight. Nothing else was.
    My bet is something along these lines:
    Smokin’ Aces-20-22M
    Epic Movie–13-15M
    Catch and Release–6M
    Blood and Chocolate–2-3M (tank)
    There’s a slim chance Catch and Release breaks out (for an apparent dump, Fox has certainly been advertising it in expensive locations on TV) to 10-12M.

  32. anghus says:

    On Southland Tales:
    How could a movie be so bad that The Rock won’t do any press for it.
    THE ROCK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
    This is the guy who made Scorpion King, Walking Tall, and Doom.
    On Joe Carnahan:
    That was very Troy Duffy of him.

  33. Eric says:

    Carnahan’s reflexive defensiveness says more about his movie than the critics ever could.

  34. Harley says:

    Wow, is that Carnahan quote for real? Yikes. Nice to know that he doesn’t “vest” in either the good or bad reviews. Too heavily. Heh.

  35. Lota says:

    i loved and disliked Darko at the same time. I seriously worried about the committment to Sparklemotion and that voyeuristic vision asssociated with it. But that was the soundtrack of the year. Creepy. You could tell whoever directed it was too young to remember mullets and all their glory cuz the 80s setting was…not 80s and that was distracting. But still I liked it. bought it.
    Maybe ROCK didn’t do Press for Southland becuz he couldn’t ‘remember’ to do so. Isn’t he supposed to be an amnesiac?! So please stow the indignation Anghus, ROCK is merely doing his job as an actor and staying really Method, that’s all. :)

  36. What publicity would The Rock have had to do? The movie hasn’t been released!

  37. Chucky in Jersey says:

    MattM: “Catch and Release” is a Columbia title. Naturally it’s a flop because it’s name-checking a 7-year-old Julia Roberts pic.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    Absurd logic from Chucky as always.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin